J to tha M: On Marketing

Marketing Free or Free Marketing

medium_7869728560M:  You had a Release Day this past weekend – Yay!

that’s exciting-puking-scary-thrilling all at once

J:  well, it was part of an already crazy weekend, so I had no time for puking

mostly, I was nervous about formatting. that what I saw wasn’t what everyone else would see

but thank you. I’m so, so, so excited to finally get Going Under out there

now… marketing. (dun dun dunnnnn)

and, as you know, this is not much fun.

this is actually the scary pukey part for me

and I feel like I’m already failing

M:  Yes, not only a release day, which is exciting enough, but your first self-published release

J:  right

which may or may not have been a good idea. jury’s still out

M:  that’s got to be a little more like free-falling

still super exciting but super scary

J:  really, the whole publishing part was…cool. easier than I thought

but now… I sit and watch

will it catch on? will people like it? will I be crucified for not having a publisher?

it did well in its first few days. still in the top 100 for children’s urban fantasy

which is whoa

but the momentum is already slowing

and I’m thinking “too soon for free days?”

which seemed to do wonders for Wraith Enchanted

Miss Number One in Her Category

nice work

M:  Thank you! I was really pleased with the free days

J:  but there’s got to be a more…lucrative way to market

besides just giving away free things. Still, if all those people tell one person

it’s super worth it

M:  I’m still kind of not understanding how that’s not lucrative marketing

I mean, think about it

it doesn’t cost you one cent to give away kindle copies

and you reach thousands of people

isn’t that reaching beyond the goal of getting your name and work in the hands and minds of readers?

J:  oh no. I understand THAT part of it

it’s definitely lucrative in that way

M:  what way isn’t it lucrative?

J:  well, I guess that it’s thousands of people who won’t pay for that book

maybe your next one, yes

thousands who probably wouldn’t have found it otherwise

I’m on board with that

I see the marketing side of it

but the bank account side of it still stings a little

M:  but it doesn’t really

I look at it this way

My sales of both books were okay but not super stellar

and during the free days, and even after, I saw the best sales on my first book that I’ve seen since the first month it came out – even better for a few days

sales I would not have seen had the second book not been offered free

and it didn’t cost me anything

J:  now that I can see

M:  and now, I have a whole bunch of new people who have my books, who will hopefully like them and have some sort of name recognition for my next works

and not only did it not cost me anything, I gave something fun, and actually made something besides feeling good in sales on my first book, and hopefully through word of mouth on both books

J:  and I don’t want you to think I’m against free days

I’m NOT

I just try not to think about the royalties I might have earned if all those people actually paid for it and I can be hap-happy

M:  gonna be honest – you cannot think that way

J:  hahahaha

my husband makes me

i get dirty looks when I say “it’s not REALLY about the money”

M:  I’d venture a pure guess that probably most of those people who downloaded the book free would never have paid for it

so how can you count that as lost sales?

Count it as a huge positive, because now they have a chance to read your work, hopefully like it, buy more, and tell their friends

you didn’t lose sales

you gained a bunch

J:  and I know it’s not. It’s about getting it out there, getting some notice

I’m not arguing. Just lamenting. it’s a difficult balance

M:  it really is

here’s the other way I look at giving away free books or putting them on sale

I have a huge list of book and authors I want to read. I can’t afford to buy them all – no way

so I get excited when a book I find intriguing goes free or on sale

and I snatch it up, and I read it

and then, if I liked it, I go and buy all of their backlist I can afford and tell everyone I know to try them out

How many sales did they make there?

when before, I never would have had the chance to find them and try the stories and recommend

that’s a loss to everyone

I mean, some of my new fave authors I discovered that way

Kate SeRine, Kit Rocha, Kristen Ashley

J:  I’m afraid I sound whiny

M:  no, you just sound like the other side of the debate

a lot of people feel that way

J:  it’s not my intention to sound whiny

M:  probably more than feel my side

J:  because I fully understand the benefit

and can’t wait until it’s time to do free days for Oracles

M:  I think a lot of authors fall into only seeing lost sales on those thousands of downloads

but you can’t see them as lost sales – most of those people would never have paid full price in the first place

sure, some of them, maybe, but the few that might have are made up by the word of mouth and sales resulting from those reads that never otherwise would have happened

J:  another benefit to self-publishing is setting my own price

M:  yes, price setting is a huge benefit

and being able to make changes at any time, when those pesky errors pop up

that’s probably not as big of a deal to you – heh

J:  I could have asked a lot more, but I thought the lowest possible price was still really fair

M:  yeah. I just want to get my stories into as many hands as possible. I’d love for everyone to be able to afford all the books they find interesting

and still allow the authors to make some sort of living

J:  now, I know how you feel about the Goodreads giveaways

like maybe you don’t see as much of a benefit

but since mine went live this morning, more people have added to the to-read lists

maybe they will, maybe they won’t buy it

but the giveaway at least put it on their radar

M:  that’s true. anything that gets the info out there is good

J:  but it gets the book in front of even more people

because those people who put it on their to-read lists are then seen by their friends

who might also find it interesting

does it translate to more sales?

no clue

but people know my name and my book

oh

do know what has helped me find books to buy?

the lists on goodreads

when I’m on my geeky hero kick, I search the lists

I’ve bought at least five that I found on those lists

it’s how I found Ruthie Knox and Delphine Dryden

M:  I find books by word of mouth or blog and publishers sites and reviewers I trust

J:  word of mouth is still definitely the most powerful

Tiff’s reading Red

and LOVING it

I feel accomplished

M:  see

I might still not have purchased Red off my want-to-read list if Kate hadn’t offered it for free, and then never rec’d to you or everyone else

J:  but Tiff wouldn’t have read it if we hadn’t talked about it

and I know two other people who bought the series after reading my rec on twitter

M:  right. but we wouldn’t have talked about it if I hadn’t read it

and I might not have read it if it hadn’t been free

J:  nope

but you can see how both worked

M:  so that whole chain reaction goes back to her offering the ebook free for a couple days

J:  perhaps, but if I hadn’t tweeted it, it would have stopped with me

M:  but I wouldn’t have started if it hadn’t been free. And boy, did I rec it after I was finished reading.

J:  and I discovered Charlotte Stein because Ruthie Knox told me on twitter to check her out

M:  and I only bought both Knox and Stein because they were on sale or free, no matter your rec

so it’s all intertwined

J:  one to spark, the other to fan the flame

M:  the best thing in the world is to get people talking

and offering your book on sale or free is a very lucrative way to do that

J:  Talking is good. I’ll start my plan for the Oracles free days

brb

photo credit: <a

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J to tha M: J Brings Up Goodreads

And Off We Go…

medium_6478709717J:  So, what about Goodreads? good or evil?

M:  I’m not on it much

J:  But many readers are. what about readers who go straight to the bad reviews before deciding if they want a book?

how relevant are the reviews on Goodreads as compared to those on Amazon?

Are they even relevant at all?

Does goodreads serve a purpose in that readers can share books with friends the way they would by word of mouth, or has it become useless because of shameless marketing?

M:  I think it’s a balance like anything else

I don’t think bad reviews tank a book–unless they’re ALL bad

It’s hard for authors to read bad reviews–we’ve all been there

but, looking at it from a purely reader standpoint, it’s true that most bad reviews actually help convince me to buy a book

it’s weird, but I think most readers don’t trust the gushy, glowing reviews

what with the pay for review scandal and the realization that a lot of people get friends and family to leave reviews

and some (not all) of the more professional review sites seem to be somewhat…how shall I say..biased toward giving good reviews

J:  It’s hard to give a bad review when you get a free book

M:  I skim through the 3, 2, and 1 star reviews to see if what people are saying are things that seriously bug me

I find those actually more honest and informative for the most part

of course, there are trolls, and they seem to be on Goodreads more

but I think I can tell the difference, as can most readers

J:  I think Goodreads does serve a purpose

in that readers have a place to give honest opinions and writers have a place to share their work

but as with everything, it’s been abused in many ways

M:  yeah. that happens when human beings get involved in a social group atmosphere

and I think it started with the intention of just being a sharing and talking about books you read

but it’s become such a commercial marketing tool, too

and wearing both a reader and writer hat, I can see both sides

but it’s kind of a shame, because now it’s hard to trust any reviews you read–to take them at face value

I mean, we’ve touched on this before. I’ve see author groups where everyone passes around a copy of their book to everyone in the group and they all leave reviews for each other

(and not just Goodreads groups)

and books get a whole bunch of reviews

and yes, they say they don’t expect or require a good review, but…

J:  I agree. In those circles, they’re all often friends

and as much as I tell people your book is awesome, they know I’m your friend

M:  I mean, if you give an honest not-five-star review of a book that didn’t appeal to you, what are the chances other people in the group are going to ask you to read theirs, or want to give your book a good review, honest or not

J:  and there is that

M:  and how many readers who aren’t writers know this is what’s happening? they just see a bunch of high reviews and think they’re from people who just picked the book up on their own and decided to review

reviews have just become goal numbers, like a lot of things

how many followers

and to me, if you’re just looking to increase numbers and improve algorithms, you’re losing what books should be at the core

simply writing a story that appeals, or reading and sharing the same

J:  And also take some of the joy out of writing them

M:  exactly. and reading them

I saw something the other day, where a blogger reviewed a book, and then at the end, encouraged people to go “like” her reviews on Goodreads and Amazon

J:  siiiiigh

M:  so now, not only are authors looking for more and higher numbers, so are reviewers

and I’m not completely naive. I know the great and mysterious Powers That Be tend to look only at those kind of numbers – whether you’re a reader or writer or a whatever it is you do

higher numbers give you more power and influence in whatever world you play in

but it’s still kind of **sigh**

J:  It’s hard not to clamor for them when you know that’s what others are looking at

You want to be above it. outside of it

M:  it’s hard not to get caught up in all that and lose sight of the joy of reading and writing

but I still cling to my version of the fluffcloud that if you write an appealing book, all those numbers will follow

J:  it’s just hard to trust that when you’re not sure how people are finding it to begin with

M:  and I say “appealing,” not “good,” because different people’s definition of “good” varies

J:  sure, one person tells one person, etc.

but Goodreads was supposed to be a way to get it to that one person

M:  an author can scrounge up 30 or 40 5 star reviews from friends or professional circles or whatever, but not 500 or 1000 (not saying that authors with 30 or 40 5 star reviews are doing this, but you know what I mean)

those are the books that I trust appeal to a wide audience

that’s the kind of book I want to write

the kind that as soon as you’re done, you want to talk about it and tell everyone

I love that feeling, and, man, it would really feed my own personal happiness to be able to give that to others

so I try to make that my goal

J:  Well, I tend to think your book rests in that category

but it hasn’t been seen by enough people yet

again. people probably don’t listen to me when I talk about it because I’m your friend

M:  well, thank you. It’s a start, and I’m always wanting to learn more, do better, put more emotional oomph into the next thing I write

I want to make that connection I feel after reading a story that really hits me

J:  the thing is, every book has “issues”

depending on who’s reading it

I mean, Twilight, which I’m prepared to admit hooked me, had stuff that pissed me off. made me roll my eyes or question my attachment

there’s always something

no matter what you do or learn, you can’t make everyone happy

M:  no, and that’s hard to accept, especially when you read that critical review

but what one person doesn’t like might float another’s boat

and it doesn’t always make sense, simply because everyone is different

I mean, I can read two books that have similar issues, whether grammar, structure, plot or character development

and in one book, I can’t get past it

but in another, even though the issues are similar, the story or writing or characters hit that chord

and I can overlook those same issues that made me DNF the other book

so…I’ve just decided it’s magic

J:  sometimes

M:  you can’t necessarily define or explain or reason, but you know when you read if it’s there or if it isn’t

J:  look how much you actually had to say, even though you’re not on Goodreads much

M:  not much was actually about Goodreads, though

J:  Goodreads is just the tool

heh. tool

M:  Goodreads, Amazon, the whole review thing

the whole chasing numbers thing

I think that’s my dissatisfaction with a lot of social media

it’s not about communication so much, but chasing numbers. making yourself feel important, powerful, liked

J:  As long as you don’t let it blind you to the fun

M:  exactly

J:  you don’t have to succumb to the numbers game

M:  but I think a lot of people do

J:  and still use Twitter for fun

M:  if you find that kind of thing fun, see

and some people don’t

J:  I find talking to you on twitter fun

M:  I don’t find talking on twitter particularly fun

sometimes it is

but it just ain’t my thing

J:  no worries

M:  I like talking to you, just not on twitter. heh.

I love chatting and communicating with other readers, writers, everyone

Just not on a forum where everything has turned into something else. Am I using the right words? Good content? The right hastags? bleh.

When I chat with someone, it’s because I want to and enjoy it, not because I should or have to. If that makes sense.

J: Sorry if I knocked you off your fluffcloud. You’re so rarely up there.

M: Right? Here’s my swandive off the fluffcloud

brb

 

photo credit: Arek Olek via photopin cc